Stop Chasing “Different” in the Same Way

I recently presented to some wealth management and banking institutions at an event in Chicago. I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the excellent executive discussion we had.

The event’s overall theme was managing the pressure of doing more with less; the dialogue was organized around tactical and strategic discussions. It was a fantastic debate. Regardless of your industry, who isn’t dealing with this kind of pressure today? Doing more with less is, frankly, the new norm.

In preparing for the event, I reflected on my experiences and market observations over the past year. One thing became very clear – everyone wants to be different, but we are all chasing “different” in the same way. So I decided to focus the strategic portion of the discussion on what it would take to re-imagine wealth management.

Ask new questions

I realize this is a big ask. As leaders, we have real business pressures we need to manage, and we may feel like that leaves little to no time for re-imagining our business. But in one of my very first blog posts I talked about how managers get paid to keep the train on the tracks and leaders get paid to build new tracks. The trick is to think of new questions that inspire you to re-imagine new tracks.

For example:

  • Can you break customer compromises? Think about the compromises we put our clients through today, from their perspective. Can you break those compromises? Uber found a way and disrupted an entire industry because customers chose the option that didn’t force them to compromise.
  • Have you experienced the customer experience first-hand? Do you really know how your customers use your services in their daily life? Can you study them “in-use,” like Scott Cook did at Intuit when he sold software, or the way Apple examines the customer experience as it relates to its packaging/product design processes?

Rethink your industry

Maybe we could better re-imagine wealth management if we broke our mental models of what wealth management should be, and re-imagine what it could be. Look at Southwest Airlines – they did not view themselves as an airline company; they viewed themselves as a transportation company. This changed their entire perspective on everything from competition, to HR practices to price point. Why couldn’t we dare to dream of a new definition for wealth management?

I’ll go first. I see wealth management as a high-end retail experience. Our end customers are also consumers of luxury products and services like Apple’s latest innovations, Lexus and NetJets. Maybe we should look at what companies like these are doing as we re-imagine our own business and deliver the kind of experience these customers want…and are willing to pay for.

Your turn: How would you re-imagine wealth management, or the industry you are in? Once you consider what change looks like for you, the next step is to examine and restructure your value chain with a specific focus on your customer value proposition, human capital and technology. Whatever you come up with, one thing is certain: change is needed. Do not fear it. Dare to embrace it. Most of life’s greatest success stories began with someone’s ability to dream.